When a Cook County driver's careless actions hurt or kill someone else, the response is a police investigation and, when a law is broken, the filing of criminal charges. There is a second form of justice available to families who've lost loved ones in preventable crashes. Compensation may be awarded to surviving family members through Illinois civil courts.
Madison County prosecutors said a New Douglas driver was intoxicated in October when he caused a fatal morning crash. The drunk driving accident took place not far from Troy, where two interstates join. The defendant's vehicle slammed into the back of a truck on Interstate 270.
The defendant's 62-year-old mother died in the collision. The 27-year-old truck driver, a Granite City woman, was hospitalized after suffering injuries. Witnesses told investigators the defendant was driving recklessly before he rear-ended the woman's vehicle.
Authorities later confirmed the defendant's blood alcohol content level was almost twice the state limit of 0.08 percent. The 25-year-old man was charged with aggravated drunk driving and pleaded guilty. The eight-year prison sentence he received was four years less than prosecutors requested, but the drunk driver was ordered to serve at least 85 percent of the term before becoming eligible for parole.
Fatal accidents impose instant losses upon families of victims. The emotional impact is often followed by sudden expenses – the victim's last medical bills and the costs of a funeral and burial. The unexpected death can have an immediate negative effect upon the stability of survivors' income, in the absence of supporting wages.
Wrongful death lawsuits are filed for the benefit of the victim's closest family members. Civil courts order negligent and reckless defendants to provide monetary relief as a way to alleviate some of the hardships for widowed spouses, children or parents. Plaintiffs' evidence must show the defendant's behavior was responsible for the victim's death, and the family's losses that resulted.
Source: Highland News Leader, "New Douglas man gets 8 years in fatal DUI case" No author given, Mar. 05, 2014